How Green Architecture Is Helping the Built Industry Meet Sustainable Goals
If you are familiar with the built industry, you probably know about its sustainability problem. The world may need more housing and commercial properties, but adding them has a significant environmental impact. Green architecture is paving the way to creating more sustainable construction and infrastructure.
About 47% of respondents in a global survey said sustainability is at the top of their priority list. Most of these efforts focus on the design process, which is where green architecture shines.
The construction industry is focusing on the long-term impact of building as it works to reduce emissions. The survey found executives are working to implement sustainability goals, but are hands-off in creating greener homes.
Architects are creating scalable, environmentally friendly buildings that are more technologically advanced than ever. They can design homes with reduced or zero carbon output with new strategies.
Green Architecture Strategies
Architects use many strategies to create sustainable homes, including the following:
- Reducing nonrenewable energy use
- Using eco-friendly building products
- Installing sustainable appliances
- Focusing on water conservation
- Making the most of available land
- Emphasizing comfort for future residents
Architects rely on integrative design processes (IDP) when focusing on these principles. IDP intentionally builds systems with the whole structure in mind, not just adding green touches.
Utilizing renewable energy resources is an important part of meeting efficiency goals, as it is the focus of worldwide conservation and sustainability efforts.
Solar energy is one of the best energy resources for sustainable homes. Architects orient houses to get the most sunlight possible. Buildings can absorb, transmit and reflect thermal energy once the sun’s rays hit them. This can lead to heating and cooling benefits before your solar panels come into play. A building exterior’s natural response to the sun is passive solar.
Active solar is the traditional way of incorporating the sun’s energy into your home. The panels convert sunlight into electricity, creating a closed-loop renewable power source.
Wind energy is an excellent source of electricity for businesses and factories, though individual turbines can be used for homes. They turn wind into power.
Architects often design these buildings where the wind is most likely to reach them, such as high elevations or unsheltered flatlands. There is some leeway, and turbines are often on a higher elevation than your home.
Sustainable building materials allow architects to get creative with their designs while ensuring a structure has little carbon output. There are a few options to choose from.
Bamboo is extremely environmentally friendly since it is fast-growing, doesn’t need replanting and does not require extensive processing.
It is a strong and attractive material you can use to create practical, yet unique, homes to impress clients.
Cork is a soft, but durable, material that works well for flooring. It’s a good alternative to carpets, which are notoriously unsustainable.
Cork has a unique texture architects can use to complement the rest of the home. However, cork blocks can be durable enough to construct walls and roofs.
This traditional building material is an excellent option for style and insulation. The bricks are available in almost any shape and manufacturers can make them with renewable energy.
These bricks bake in the sun and contain natural materials like soil, water and straw. They end up being extremely strong and can last centuries.
Reclaimed wood, recycled steel and other valuable materials can benefit the environment. Reusing items keeps them from sitting in landfills and releasing carbon into the atmosphere. Demolishing and remodeling a home costs $100,000-$200,000 compared to building a new home, which rings up at $150,000-$400,000. Giving new life to these materials means you aren’t contributing to the emissions created by producing new ones.
Designing a home’s landscaping with local plants is low-maintenance, attractive and sustainable. Grasses, trees and plants from the surrounding area are adapted to the climate and can thrive around homes, offices and government buildings.
Local plants don’t need excess irrigation or fertilization that can increase the building’s carbon footprint, unlike nonnative species unfamiliar with the climate.
Stormwater runs down drains, where it’s transported through a sewer system to a body of water. This harms the natural water table underneath. However, the right design can mitigate this issue.
Stormwater management strategies can capture the runoff and slowly add it back to the ground so as to replenish the water table. This also reduces the possibility of flooding from water bodies fed by the drain.
Active Sustainable Design
Active sustainable design means making the best choices when nonrenewable energy is necessary.
Architects can consult with professionals in the area to identify the most efficient options when planning appliances for a new building. Many modern refrigerators, HVAC and plumbing systems have small environmental footprints. They use smaller amounts of electricity to provide better results. Designing a new building is an excellent time to implement efficient appliances.
Appliances are just part of the conversation when making sustainable choices. Choosing items produced by companies with eco-friendly values can contribute to the fight against climate change.
Why Green Architecture Matters
Construction contributes to about one-third of the world’s waste, so the design process is crucial in reducing climate change’s impact. The changing environment is already causing increased natural disasters, substantial pollution and the destruction of many species. The time to act is now.
While construction companies do the demolition and building, you and your architect can decide how sustainable a building will be. Green architecture doesn’t just impact the environment. It can positively affect the economy and public health, as well.
Architects who skew their designs toward sustainability pressure materials manufacturers to implement green practices and make efficient products.
Research shows the elements of green architecture improve public health through better air quality and the mood-boosting properties of natural materials.
The Price of Green Architecture
A common misconception about green architecture is it will cost a significant amount to implement sustainable practices. That’s not exactly the case — it costs around 2% more to construct an eco-friendly structure. However, the return on investment for sustainable homes and office buildings offset those costs.
Solar and wind equipment can be expensive, but the investment leads to thousands in energy savings. Your natural building materials can last centuries with little need to pay for repairs.
Homes naturally insulated through sustainable design reduce the need for heating and cooling systems, saving on energy and maintenance costs.
Using Green Architecture to Meet Sustainability Goals
Green architecture has many benefits for the environment and the building industry. Green architecture is leading the way in creating sustainable buildings as people look for environmentally friendly options and companies work to reduce the devastating impacts of climate change.
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